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Choi scandal puts spotlight on phones under borrowed names

Phones under another person’s name, or “daepo phone,” are attracting attention after it was revealed that a number of high ranking officials involved in the Choi Soon-sil scandal have used them for clandestine communications.

Former senior policy secretary Ahn Jong-beom, one of the government officials suspected of helping establish illegally funded sports foundations where the president’s confidante Choi Soon-sil is known to be the de facto head, had used the daepo phone to keep in contact with key figures in the prosecutors’ probe. 


Ahn’s application for resignation was accepted by the presidential office Sunday, amid wide calls from political parties and ordinary citizens for the president to reshuffle her Cabinet.

The Prosecutors’ Office has banned Ahn from leaving the country.

It is widely known that the nation’s top officials often use daepo phones to disguise identities.

Data compiled between the beginning of 2011 and June 2016 from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning show that the number of identified daepo phones reached 18,317 in the cited period.

Considering the secretive nature of such phones with borrowed names, more daepo phones than what the official tally suggests are being circulated in the country, as people seek to conceal their identities in illicit activities despite regulations and punishment.

Based on the Telecommunications Business Act, those who make and sell daepo phones are punishable by a maximum of one year in prison or a fine of up to 50 million won ($43,700). Those who buy, borrow, or use daepo phones are punishable by up to 3 years in prison or a maximum fine of 100 million won.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (
Korea Herald Youtube